The Bristol Athletic Hall of Fame held its 37th annual banquet on Nov. 25 at the Venus de Milo Restaurant and inducted 16 new members — 13 outstanding athletes from the Mt. Hope High School Class of 1995, as well as three individuals in the Special Recognition Category.
Under Special Recognition, Walter Burke (Town of Bristol Director of Parks & Recreation) and Sarah Klein (Town of Bristol Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation) were both recognized for their significant contributions toward health and physical fitness programs for the citizens of Bristol, and for maintaining and upgrading the numerous parks, playing fields, and facilities under their direction.
Also inducted under the Special Recognition Category was TJ DelSanto, who was recognized for his outstanding career as a high school football coach at Bristol High School, Warren High School, and Mt. Hope High School, as well as his many years as a Health / Physical Education teacher and department chair at Mt. Hope.
Following are the 13 student-athletes inducted in to the hall of fame.
Jason began playing baseball in 1984, starting with T-Ball and continuing through Little League, Senior League, American Legion, high school and college. He earned 2nd team All Division as a sophomore at Warren High School, and then at Mt. Hope earned 3rd team All Division in 1994 and 1st team All Division in 1995. He also excelled in American Legion baseball from 1991 to 1994, and went on to play college baseball at CCRI and Rhode Island College. At Warren High School, Jason also played soccer and basketball, and was a member of the 1993 Warren Class C state champion basketball team. As a junior and senior at Mt. Hope, he also played football and basketball, and was a member of the 1994 Mt. Hope Class C state champion basketball team and the 1995 Mt. Hope Class B-East Division baseball champs. Following his school years, Jason has played in softball leagues in Bristol, Warren, and Barrington, and also became an avid runner, competing in 5Ks and marathons.
Michael’s participation in the sport of baseball began with T-Ball in 1984, and continues to this day. He played T-Ball, Little League, and Senior League in Warren, American Legion for Barrington Post 8 and Allstate Insurance, high school for both Warren and Mt. Hope high schools, and four years of college baseball at Rhode Island College. As a sophomore in Warren, Michael was named to the 1993 3rd Team All Division Class B-East. In 1995, while a member of the Mt. Hope 1995 Class B-East Division baseball champs, he also earned 1st team All Division. From 1993 to 1995, Michael also excelled in American Legion baseball, helping to lead his team to the division championship in 1995.
While studying as an elementary education major, Michael went on to have an outstanding career at Rhode Island College. When he graduated in 2000, he was fifth all-time at Rhode Island College in career doubles, 6th all-time in slugging percentage, and first for most hits in a single season with 55 in 1997. He won the Little East batting title in 1997, and was named 1st team Little East All Conference. After college, Michael has gone on to a career in education, and was awarded the 2016 WJAR/Hasbro Golden Apple teacher award. He has also remained active with the sport of baseball as a coach, including manager of the Mt. Hope varsity baseball team in 2002 and 2003, assistant coach for the Davies H.S. varsity team in 2008 and 2009, and has been assistant coach for the Birchwood Middle School team since 2015.
Tracy L Dallaire Connor
As Salutatorian of the Mt. Hope Class of 1995, Tracy excelled as both scholar and athlete in high school. She developed into an outstanding softball player while playing in various divisions of Little League from age 9 and continuing up to high school. Tracy went on to play both junior varsity and varsity softball as a freshman in 1992, and varsity in the 1993 to 1995 seasons. She was named 2nd team All Division in three of those seasons, and was a key member of the 1993 Bristol High School Class B2 Division champs. In addition, Tracy also played on the junior varsity soccer team during her freshman and sophomore years. Following high school, Tracy has continued to play recreational league softball to the present day. She also has passed on her enjoyment of the sport by coaching several Little League teams.
Jerry J DeOliveira
As a three-sport player in high school, Jerry not only excelled as an all-around athlete, but also established himself as a team leader, serving as captain on the football, basketball and baseball teams. He was a member of the 1995 Mt. Hope Class B-East Division Baseball champs, and a member of the 1994 Mt Hope Class C state basketball championship team. An exceptional shortstop, Jerry was named 2nd Team All Division in 1993 and 1st team All Division in 1995. Following high school, Jerry has given back to the three sports he played, coaching Pop Warner football, Little League baseball, AAU, and CYO basketball.
Tracy was an outstanding three-sport athlete at Bristol and Mt. Hope high schools, playing varsity for all four years of high school in soccer, basketball and softball, and served as a team captain in all three sports. In soccer, she was a member of the 1993 Mt. Hope Division II championship team, and a member of the 1994 Mt. Hope Division II and state championship team.
In basketball, she played on the 1993 Bristol High School Class C championship team. In softball, Tracy was a member of the 1993 Bristol Class B2 division championship team, earning Class B2 Honorable Mention for that season, and in 1995, Tracy was named 2nd Team Softball All Division. She also received the Richard Jackson Memorial Scholarship at graduation.
Following school, Tracy has gone on to be an active member of the Bristol Theatre Company, including serving as their vice chairperson.
At the age of 5, Mark began playing soccer in the Bristol Youth Soccer program. His soccer career has since continued for 35 years and counting as a player, coach, and goalkeeper trainer. Following his years playing in BYSA and East Bay Soccer Association, Mark went on to be a four-year varsity starter at Bristol High School and Mt. Hope High School. A truly exceptional goalkeeper, he helped lead Mt. Hope to the 1993 Division 1A soccer state championship. For the 1993 season, Mark was awarded All State, All Division, and All Tournament. He was a Met Life Classic selection in both 1993 and 1994, and he was team captain in 1994 as well.
Mark also played in the Luso American Soccer Association (LASA), winning several championships and being named LASA Goalkeeper of the Year multiple times. He then went on to play professional soccer in North Carolina for the Carolina Railhawks of the USL-1, the Wilmington Hammerheads of the USL-2, and in the NC Latino League, where he was named NC Latino League Goalkeeper of the Year five times.
Currently a member of the North Carolina Coaches Association, Mark has continued on in the sport of soccer as a coach and goalkeeper trainer in the Swansboro Soccer Association and the New Bern Soccer Association. Mark has also made the time to be involved with a number of community service organizations, including QH20 & Hydrating Humanity (a clean drinking water non-profit group) and the Carteret County Humane Society.
Tara’s involvement with athletics began when she was 5 years young with both cheerleading and gymnastics, with softball being added to the list when she was 7. As a football cheerleader, Tara cheered for Warren Redskins Pop Warner, and then for both Warren High School and Mt. Hope High School. Following youth gymnastics, Tara went on to compete for the Warren Middle School, Warren High School, and Mt. Hope High School gymnastic teams, and qualified to compete on the beam in the Individual State Gymnastics Finals in her senior year.
In softball, Tara played in the various levels of Warren Little League, then played varsity high school softball for both Warren and Mt. Hope high schools. She was a key member on the 1993 Warren softball Division B2 title team and was named to the 1993 B2 All Division team. When playing for the Mt. Hope softball team, Tara earned Division A2 Honorable Mention.
In addition to being an excellent athlete, Tara also distinguished herself as a leader, when as a senior she was named team captain for both football cheerleading and gymnastics and co-captain for the softball team. At graduation, she received the Mt. Hope High School Athletic Council Award. After high school, Tara continued to play softball in Warren and Barrington Women’s Leagues from 1995 to 2016. She has been a coach in the Warren Little League from 2012 to the present. She has also been a cheerleader coach for the East Bay Warriors from 2013 to the present, and was awarded “Coach of the Year” in 2016.
In her field of education, Tara has served as the class advisor at Cumberland High School for the classes of 2004 and 2015, and she is a board member of the Deanna M. Brule Education Fund.
An outstanding two-sport athlete at Mt Hope High School, Joel will long be remembered in the East Bay for his spectacular “shining moment” during the 1994 Class C State Championship Basketball game at the Providence Civic Center. With Mt. Hope trailing by 2 points with 1.1 seconds left in the game, Joel was able to tip in a missed shot at the buzzer to force the game into overtime. The Huskies went on to win the game, giving Mt. Hope their first state title in basketball.
A team captain as a junior that season, he helped lead an outstanding hoop squad to the Class C2 Division co-championship prior to the state tournament, and earned 1st team All Class C honors. As a senior, Joel was again named team captain of the basketball team, and had another exceptional season as the leading scorer for the Huskies, and was named 4th team All Class C. By the end of the season, Joel became the first Mt. Hope boys basketball player to score 1,000 career points.
In the summer of 1994, Joel and fellow Mt. Hope teammates Sal Corona and Jim McMahon won the Rhode Island three-on-three basketball championship in the 17-18-year-old division, and went on to win the national title in Boulder, Colo.
In the sport of baseball, Joel excelled in Warren Little League and Babe Ruth League, being named to All Star teams multiple years. In high school, he was named to the Class C baseball 3rd team as a sophomore in 1993 for Warren High School, and again earned Class C 3rd team honors in 1994 for Mt. Hope. Joel helped lead the 1995 baseball Huskies to the Class B- East Division championship and was named 2nd team All Division. He also was a key contributor to the 1995 division-winning Allstate Insurance American Legion team. At graduation, Joel received the Richard Jackson Scholarship Award.
Following high school. Joel played baseball at Rhode Island College and was named to the Little East All Conference team as a first baseman / DH. Joel has gone on to be a police officer in the Town of Warren. Very active in community service, he is a recipient of the East Bay Warrior Foundation Community Action Award. In 2011, Joel was inducted into the Warren Athletic Hall of Fame.
Michael A. Palumbo
An outstanding three-sport athlete in high school, Michael developed his all-around skills playing youth sports in the various levels of King Philip Little League baseball, Bristol Pop Warner football, CYO basketball for the Our Lady of Mount Carmel program, and American Legion baseball for Allstate Insurance. He continued to thrive in all three sports during his years at Bristol and Mt. Hope high schools.
In football, Michael developed into a force at linebacker, being named to the 1994 All State 2nd team and 1st team All Division as a senior at Mt. Hope. He was also named to the 94-95 “Who’s Who” in high school football. In basketball, Michael was a member of the 1994 Mt. Hope Class C state championship team. In baseball, Michael helped lead the Huskies to the 1995 Class B-East Division title. An exceptional pitcher, he threw Mt. Hope’s 1st “No Hitter,” and was named the 1995 Class B-East MVP, as well as 1st team All Division. Michael also demonstrated excellent leadership qualities as a high school athlete, being named a team captain in all three sports he played. At graduation, he received the Eric Dober Memorial Football Scholarship Award.
Following high school, Michael was an All Star performer in the 1997 and 1998 Ocean State / Sunset Baseball League, and went on to have an outstanding baseball career at Salve Regina University as both a starting pitcher and reliever. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1996, and team captain and Senior Athlete of the Year in 1999. At the time of his graduation, Michael held the Salve Regina single-season records for most games started, most complete games, most saves, and most innings pitched. As of 2017 in Salve Regina baseball history, Michael still ranks third in career saves and sixth in complete games.
Following college, Michael has been an instructor at the Roger Williams Baseball School and the Newport School of Baseball, has coached baseball in the King Philip, East Providence, and Rumford Little Leagues, American Legion, AAU, and Elite Baseball.
Timothy L. Shaw
Prior to high school, Timothy was a multiple time All Star while playing baseball in the Warren Little League, and went on to excel in both football and baseball at both Warren High School and Mt. Hope High School. Playing linebacker as a sophomore for the Warren High School football team in 1992, he earned 2nd team All Division honors and received the Warren High School Most Improved Player award for that year.
As a tight end and wide receiver for the Mt. Hope football team as a junior and senior, Timothy was named 2nd team All State and 1st team All Division in 1993, and 1st team All Division in 1994. He also served as a football team captain as a senior. In baseball, Timothy was a key member of the 1995 Mt. Hope HS Class B-East championship team, earning 2nd team All Division honors that season. At graduation he received the Martin Biancuzzo Award.
Following high school, Timothy went on to play four years of football at Plymouth State University as a tight end. He served as a Middletown Beach Commission Board Member from 2004-2013 and as a Middletown Substance Abuse Task Force Member from 2007-2013. Timothy was co-chairman for Pitch Hit and Run of R.I. from 2008-2013, and in 2012 received the Ralph Coppa RI Parks & Recreation Award. He has coached in the Warren Little League from 2012 to 2017, and was an assistant coach for the 2017 Mt. Hope football team. Timothy was also inducted into the Warren Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.
Starting with youth wrestling in elementary and junior high school in Warren, Daniel has thrived and excelled in every sport he has turned his focus to at various stages of his life. In a five-year period from the 1988 through the 1992 wrestling seasons, he was dominant in winning four state championships and three New England Championships in various weight classes. Daniel went on to qualify for back to back Rhode Island All Star wrestling teams as a sophomore at Warren High School in 1993 and a junior at Mt. Hope High School in 1994. In 1994, he also earned both 1st team All State and 1st team All Division wrestling honors in the 130-pound weight class, and served as a team captain.
As a senior at Mt. Hope, Daniel decided to switch sports and join the track team, running cross country for the first Mt. Hope track team, and also serving as team captain. Daniel went on to have an outstanding Division 1 track career at the University of Hartford. He became the school record holder in both the 800 meters, and as the anchor on the 4 X 400 team relay. As was the case in high school sports, he once again was chosen team captain.
Following college, Daniel has gone on to have a very successful career in the business world, becoming CEO of SGG Consulting, a San Francisco based high tech firm. At the same time he once again moved his focus to a new sport, and turned himself into an accomplished professional in the sport of sailing. A winner of a multitude of events, Daniel has most notably been the North American Sailing Champion, the Rolex Big Boat Series Champion, and the Long Beach Sailing Champion. In 2012, he was named the Corinthian Yacht Club Sailor of the Year, the youngest individual to ever receive the award. Daniel has also been active in community service, performing various volunteer work through his corporation in California, and has been a generous donor in helping to financially sustain the Town of Warren’s Summer Recreation Program. Currently, the book on Daniel’s sailing career is still being written, as he is focused on pursuing a sailing world championship.
Michael T. Vendituoli
Prior to high school, Michael grew up in Bristol playing a full assortment of sports at various levels, including youth soccer, Little League baseball, Pop Warner football, CYO basketball, and golf. Michael went on to be an outstanding three-sport student athlete during his high school years at Bristol and Mt. Hope high schools. He played four years of varsity in the sports of football, basketball and golf, and was named a team captain in all three of those sports.
In football, Michael was named 2nd team All Division in his senior year as quarterback of the Huskies, and was also recognized as a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete. In basketball, he was a member of the Mt. Hope 1994 Class C2 Division champs and Class C state championship team. In golf, Michael earned 3rd team All Division honors in 1993 at Bristol High School, and 2nd and 3rd team All Division honors at Mt. Hope in 1994 and 1995. He also was the Junior Club Champion at Montaup Country Club in the summer of 1994. In 1995, Michael was the Providence Journal Honor Roll Award recipient for Mt. Hope High School, won a John Burke Caddy Scholarship, and received the Mt. Hope Athletic Council Award at graduation.
Michael went to college at Coastal Carolina, where he continued to hone his golf skills, eventually lowering his handicap all the way down to a one. Following college, Michael has gone on to a very successful career with Northwestern Mutual. He also continued to play competitive golf, having won six club championships as a member of Alpine Country Club.
Kelly’s outstanding softball career began in Little League at the age of 9, and continued through high school at Mt. Hope and college at Rhode Island College. Kelly was chosen as an All Star each year from the ages of 10 through 15 while playing in the Major League and Senior League levels of Little League softball. She was a star performer on the 1990 Mount Pleasant Senior League State Champion All Star softball team.
In high school softball, Kelly was a member of the 1993 BHS Class B2 Division Champs. She was named 3rd team All Division as a sophomore, 2nd team All Division as a junior, and 1st team All Division as a senior in 1995. She also played on the Mt. Hope soccer team as a goalkeeper. Following high school, Kelly went on to be a solid performer for the Rhode Island College softball team, playing as a starter in all four seasons. After college, she has stayed connected to the sport as an umpire for Little League softball.
Walter V. Burke
Walter has been the Town of Bristol Director of Parks, Recreation and the Environment for the past 24 years. He and his wife Karen have been married for 41 years, and have raised four sons. When growing up, Walter was one of 10 children who as members of The Burke Family Singers traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada on concert tours. They performed professionally from 1959 to 1972 and appeared numerous times on national television programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, and the Mike Douglas Show. At Hope High School in Providence, Walter participated in gymnastics, track, and the mountain climbing
Before coming to work for Bristol, Walter was the administrator at a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected children, where he wrote grants and obtained funding to create a recreational complex for the facility which included basketball and tennis courts, a playground, and a boxing ring. Today, Walter manages 19 parks in the Town of Bristol as well as the Quinta-Gamelin Community Center. The citizens of Bristol have benefited from Walter’s excellent grant writing skills during his tenure, as he has helped raise funds to restore and upgrade all of the 19 parks, including the baseball fields, softball fields, basketball courts, soccer fields, tennis courts, roller hockey arena, and skate park, all of which are used by youth and adult sports leagues as well as for general recreation by both kids and adults.
With a focus on “Green Infrastructure,” he has also teamed with other town employees, DEM, Save the Bay, NRCS, and the RI Health Department to restore both the Silver Creek Marsh and the Bristol Town Beach & Sports Complex. The results from this project speak for themselves as the average number of beach closings have been reduced from 10 per year to virtually none in the past four years. In what is probably the “crown jewel” of his achievements, after many years of hard work Walter helped the town obtain the Quinta-Gamelin building from the U.S. Department of Defense in 2013. The building has since been transformed into a multi-purpose recreation and wellness facility.
Sarah C Klein
As assistant director of Bristol Parks and Recreation, Sarah has worked hand in hand with Walter Burke for the past 17 years, and deserves to receive a fair share of the credit for the many significant achievements and accomplishments of their department. The daughter of 1992 Bristol Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee Robert Caizzi, Sarah grew up along with her two brothers as part of a very active and athletic minded family.
While attending Warren High School in the late ’70s, Sarah played girls basketball and was in the ski club. She was on the swim team at the Bristol YMCA, and also played girls basketball there as well. In college, she was a member of the Tennis Club and the Frisbee Club. She has played in the Barrington Woman’s Softball League, played club racquet ball, and taught gymnastics for the Warren Recreation Summer Camp program, and been a competitive runner, mostly participating in 5Ks.
Sarah has served as a volunteer for the Bristol Youth Soccer Association and has been a member of the RI Recreation & Parks Association Education Committee. She has volunteered at annual Gloria Gemma fundraising events and annual Rhode Island Food Bank fundraisers.
To the current generation of Mt. Hope High School students, “Mr. Del Santo” is the highly respected head coach of the Mt. Hope football team and the well liked Department Chair of Physical Education / Health at the school. While certainly accurate, that description is only a footnote to the full story of TJ Del Santo – which is a four-decades-long story of an exceptional Rhode Island athlete and coach who has left a very strong imprint on high school students and athletes in the East Bay area.
TJ was a multi-sport star at Classical High School from 1975 to 1979. In the 9th grade he was the freshman cross country state champion. Over the next three years, TJ excelled in football, indoor track, baseball, and outdoor track. He earned indoor track All State honors for three straight years, was named All Division in baseball as a junior and senior, All State in football as a senior, and 2nd team All State for indoor track as a senior.
TJ also displayed the leadership skills that would serve him well as a future coach, being named a team captain in football, track, and baseball. Following high school, TJ was awarded a four-year football scholarship to the University of Rhode Island, where he went on to be a three-year starter. He was a key performer on the 1981 URI team that won the Yankee Conference Championship and went on to play in the NCAA National Playoffs vs Idaho State.
In 1983, TJ scored four touchdowns, including the game-winner, in a six-overtime game vs. Maine that was recognized at that time as the longest game in modern college football history. Despite the demands that go with playing college football, TJ was also able to excel in the classroom as a Dean’s List student at URI.
Upon graduation, he moved on to professional football when he was signed by the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL, whom he played for in the 1983 and 1984 seasons. In 1988, TJ got his coaching career started as an assistant football coach at Bristol High School, where he was working as a substitute teacher. He was hired as a teacher and head football coach at Warren High School in 1990, where he replaced the legendary Pat Abbruzzi who was retiring. Two years later, TJ coached WHS to the 1992 Super Bowl in the school’s final year before regionalization of the Bristol and Warren schools.
In 1993, he started his teaching career at Mt. Hope High School as a Physical Education & Health teacher and assistant football coach. He became the head football coach at Mt. Hope in 2002, and Phys Ed & Health Department Chair in 2003. TJ eventually went on to football coaching stints at Seekonk High School and Portsmouth High School before returning to Mt. Hope as head football coach in 2014.
TJ has received a number of awards in the Physical Education field, including a Champlin Foundation Grant of $110,000 to establish the Healthy Huskies Wellness Center in 2002, the 2004 Alice Marchant Award for Educational Leadership in RI, and the 2008 Governor’s Award for Wellness Innovation. In 2013, TJ was inducted into the Classical High School Hall of Fame, and in 2014 he was inducted into the R.I. High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.